The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    A visible impact

    Long, blonde and curled to perfection:  April D’Water’s hair should be the envy of many women at UW-Eau Claire.

    So when she came up with a plan to shave it off in order to raise money for the non-profit organization Invisible Children, her friends were a little surprised.

    Senior Liz Felder and D’Water met during their freshmen year, though the two became closer friends when they became RAs in Towers Hall North.

    “I was a little taken aback but not too much because this is April’s life, Invisible Children,” Felder, a public relations and Spanish major, said. “Her mind-set is always on Invisible Children and what she can do to help them, regardless of how it effects her.”

    Story continues below advertisement


     Snip snip

    The idea was simple: D’Water would shave her head if she could raise $2,100 in donations for Invisible Children in honor of her 21st  birthday. But it evolved into more than that.

    As D’Water started sharing her idea with more people, Felder said that some of them thought it was a great idea, while others said things like, ‘No, I’ll pay you to not shave off your hair.’

    Invisible Felder said this is what sparked the idea to turn it into a competition.

    “She was still struggling with whether or not she should shave it,” Felder said. “So I said ‘why not make it a competition?’”

    Starting Oct. 25, D’Water’s donation page has allowed people to donate into one of two groups: keep the hair, or buzz it off. Whichever group raises the most money, that’s what April will do come December, so long as the goal of $2,100 is met.

    “I voted for not shaving her head,” Felder said with a laugh. “I still support her, obviously, but her hair is so pretty.”

    For D’Water, though, it’s not that difficult knowing what’s at stake, she said.

    She said she’s come to terms with the idea of losing her hair, and said she would hands down do it for Invisible Children.

    “I am nervous,” D’Water said. “But I can’t think of another cause that I’d rather do this for.”

    Invisible Children is a non-profit organization working to end a war that has taken a huge toll on four countries in central Africa over the past 26 years. Since 2009, 954 people have been killed and 1,795 children have been abducted. The children are abducted from their homes daily and forced to be child soldiers in a rebel army called the Lord’s Resistance Army. The organization gets the word out about the war through visual media and raises money to help the people of central Africa survive the perils of war.

    What Invisible Children is doing, D’Water said, is helping end the war, with long-lasting solutions.

    “They’re not providing handouts,” D’Water said. “They’re providing solutions so the people of the Congo, Uganda, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic can take care of themselves.”


    How the whole thing
    got started

    D’Water isn’t a Midwestern girl originally. She grew up in Louisiana, and her family moved across the country throughout her childhood. She graduated from high school in Alaska, where her family now lives.

    Having lived in Hayward, Wis., for a couple years, D’Water decided to come back to Wisconsin for college, finding a place for herself at Eau Claire.

    She is now a senior, in her third year as an RA in Towers North and an elementary and special education comprehensive major.

    She noted that though her childhood of moving around may not have been a traditional one, seeing the different ways people live across the U.S. shaped her into the person she is now.

    D’Water said she became aware of the war in central Africa the summer after she graduated from high school by discovering Invisible Children’s website and watching all the videos.

    She said she had hoped that once she got to Eau Claire she’d find a group on campus involved with helping Invisible Children. And eventually, she did.

    D’Water became involved with the Human Trafficking Abolitionists in her sophomore year and is now co-president of the organization.

    “I like knowing that I’m using my time for something that’s worth it,” she said.

    Because of her involvement in the Human Trafficking Abolitionists, D’Water went to San Diego this summer for Fourth of State, a human rights conference put on by Invisible Children.

    “It was the most motivating and inspirational experience ever,” D’Water said. “It was really cool to be surrounded by 600 other young people with the same ideas and passions on human rights.”

    Many of the people D’Water met at the conference keep in touch through a Facebook group. One of them posted that he shaved his head once he reached his goal. D’Water said she was struck by inspiration.

    “I thought, ‘I could do that,’” she said. “So I kind of morphed his idea with the $2,100 for my 21st birthday.”


      For what it’s worth

    All of the money D’Water raises will go to Invisible Children whether or not she reaches her goal of $2,100.

    The money will benefit the Invisible Children Protection Plan. D’Water called it a comprehensive plan to help end conflict in
    central Africa.

    “One of the things the money’s going towards is radio towers,” D’Water explained. “The radio towers will provide communication to these remote, rural areas in the Congo. The reason why the LRA is so fiercely violent in that area is because they have no technology, no form of communication; it’s very remote.”

    She cited an event that occurred in December of 2008, when more than 600 people were killed and more than 400 children were abducted. Three months passed before anyone noticed. Invisible Children is building radio towers so these communities can communicate, warn each other of rebel violence and help protect each other, D’Water said.

    Money from the plan will also be spent trying to reach out to child soldiers in the LRA to try to convince them to leave. Some of the money will also go to schools in northern Uganda, as well as going toward building the Congo’s first rehabilitation center for child soldiers.

    “When these kids do come out of the bush, they’re completely traumatized,” D’Water said. “They were forced to kill their families, their neighbors, and these rehabilitation centers will help them kind of get their life back.

    “That’s why I think this cause is such a good one, and one that deserves to have this money. You can see the breakdown of their finances online. They’ve won awards for using their finances the way they should. Your money is going straight to on-the-ground solutions, and I think that’s amazing.”


     Change of mind

    Célia Joachim is also an RA in Towers North and is a member of the Human Trafficking

    She met D’Water during the fall 2009 semester and the two became friends working together at Towers North. During the spring of 2010, the two became much closer when Joachim shaved her head for the Saint Baldrick’s Foundation.

    “She was with me through the whole thing,” Joachim said. “But I think she was one of the people who said to me, ‘I don’t know how you did it.’”

    Now, however, whichever way the voting goes, Joachim said she’s fairly certain that D’Water will end up shaving her head, too.

    “We’re on the same page when it comes to this,” Joachim said. “We’re both aware of the bigger purpose in the things we do.”

    Out of all of the Invisible Children organizations in the university chapter, the Human Trafficking Abolitionists come in seventh for having raised the most money, Joachim said.

    She said she thinks that without D’Water, the group wouldn’t have been able to do so much for Invisible Children.

    “I’m so proud of her.”


     It’ll grow back

    While the event is in honor of D’Water’s 21st birthday, which is on Nov. 18, she’s allowing people to donate until Dec. 14.

    “She loves her hair,” Felder said. “But that just shows how much more she loves Invisible Children. I mean, hair is hair; it will grow back, and she’s just in that mind-set now of mentally preparing for what if she has to shave it off.”

    D’Water said that it’s all worth it, hair or no hair.

    “It’s what fulfills me and makes me feel happy,” D’Water said. “When something kind of lights a fire inside of me, I hold on to it and don’t let go.

    “Honestly, I want to shave it off,” D’Water said. “That way, when people ask me why my head’s shaved I can tell more people about Invisible Children.”




    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    A visible impact